Guided inquiry labs in AP Physics

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


This study was performed to determine the impact of guided inquiry experiments on students in AP Physics C: Mechanics. Qualitative and quantitative data were gathered to answer the following questions: What are the effects of introducing guided inquiry experiments on student enjoyment of physics? The following secondary questions were also investigated: Does conducting guided inquiry experiments improve student retention of course material? Does conducting guided inquiry experiments improve students' ability to write about science? Two sections were used as a treatment and non-treatment group. As one group conducted guided inquiry experiments, the other performed traditional experiments. After the first round of treatment, the groups were swapped. Surveys and interviews were conducted before, during, and after both rounds of treatment. Results of the study indicated that students who received the treatment early in the year enjoyed guided inquiry more and became more comfortable with independence than the group who received the treatment in the second semester. Results showed no significant impact on retention of course material or science writing ability. It is hypothesized that those students who formed good experimental habits by performing inquiry early in the year were better able to adapt and enjoy the experiments than those who started out in the non-treatment group performing traditional experiments.




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